“Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is dead serious about making affordable, inexpensive and quality medicines available to Nigerians in the coming months.”
That was the message of Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah, chairman of Graham Foggs Ltd, to the biggest manufacturers of pharmaceutical raw materials in China, during a 3-day meeting which took place on 15th, 16th and 17th April, 2019.
The Graham Foggs team, which was in China to sign memoranda of understanding with the firms, expressed President Buhari’s determination to see quality medicines in Nigeria.
“He has already made inexpensive, affordable fertilisers available to Nigerians; he now wants to move on to medicines,” said Nda-Isaiah. “The fact that the president formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by a very senior and well-respected minister shows how committed he is to this programme.”
The programme involves sourcing of quality pharmaceutical raw materials from around the world and manufacturing finished products in Nigeria, thus making the final products cheaper for buyers. It is also aimed at resuscitating the nearly dead pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in the country and creating millions of jobs in the process. The ultimate objective is to make Nigeria the hub of pharmaceutical manufacture in Africa, the chairman of Graham Foggs told his Chinese audience.
Graham Foggs Ltd, a Nigerian pharmaceutical consortium has been commissioned by President Buhari under the supervision of an inter-ministerial committee headed by minister of agriculture Audu Ogbe. Minister of health Prof. Isaac Adewole, managing director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) Uche Orji, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and others are members of the committee.
The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria facilitated the trip, taking advantage of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) agreement between China and Nigeria.
FOCAC is an official forum between the government of China and the governments of all the countries of Africa. The last meeting of the Heads of Government was held September 3–4, last year, in Beijing during which President Buhari held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China provides the bulk of pharmaceutical raw materials to the world including to the European Union, the United States and Canada. Even India regarded as the world’s capital for quality and cheap medicines gets 75% of its pharmaceutical raw materials from China.
In the spirit of FOCAC, the Chinese government has additionally, through its embassy, agreed to finance the establishment of two pharmaceutical industrial parks in Nigeria: one in the Lagos/Ogun/ Ibadan axis and the other in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Chinese ambassador in Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, has recommended the managing director of CGC, Mr Ye Shuijin, who is also the president of the China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, for coordination of the establishment and construction of the pharmaceutical industrial parks. When completed, they will be the first of their kind in Africa. The ambassador has also commissioned the media, notably LEADERSHIP Newspapers, to cover the meetings of Graham Foggs Ltd and the pharmaceutical raw materials manufacturers.
Nda-Isaiah, was accompanied on the trip by Graham Foggs’ vice-chairman Mike Okpere, managing director Gen. Chichi Joseph (rtd), pharmaceutical director Musibau Mustapha, and country manager Emmanuel Nda-Isaiah.
The team visited more than a dozen raw materials producers as well as several industrial parks in China.
At the Huahai pharmaceutical company in Taizhou, the delegation was welcomed by the company’s chairman, Xie Pingyi, who said China and Africa, especially Nigeria, have greater friendship.
Pingyi said it was an honour for the Nigerian pharmaceutical firm to visit China on such a mission, adding that the initiative would, to a greater extent, help the people of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Huahai pharmaceuticals industrial park, approved by the Chinese government, sits on a total area of 16.5 square kilometres (600 hectares).
In 2018, Huahai’s total earning was 13.8 billion RMB, and its total export in the same year was 4 billion RMB, Pingyi stated.
The Graham Foggs team also visited Langhua pharmaceuticals and Haizheng pharmaceuticals both in Taizhou.
From Taizhou, the delegation moved to Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan province. It met with the management committee of Liuyang economic development zone, and also visited Jiudian and Erkang pharmaceuticals.
In Changsha, the team met with the management committee of Changsha High-Tech Industrial park, an international science and technology business platform. Li Weimin, who is the manager of the park, said the park’s total import and export in 2018 was $3.7bn and that they had set a target of $5-6bn for this year.
The Graham Foggs team, awed by what they saw, thanked the Chinese for the opportunity.
The next port of call was the Hunan Aichen Biotechnology Company where Nda-Isaiah requested active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). “We need to get APIs at a remarkably good price and distribute to local manufacturers, not the finished products. Nigeria’s population is 200 million, and the country is Africa’s biggest economy. Prices of drugs have become a political issue all over the world. The Nigerian government is interested in bringing down the prices of pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. Apart from supply of APIs, we are looking at partnerships in the construction of pharmaceutical plants as we are going to set up different plants across the country,” he stated.
Also visited by Graham Foggs was the Arshine group, which supplies human and veterinary APIs and pharmaceutical machinery, and is one of China’s top 10 API companies.
Later that day, the team met with Minyi Zhonge, who runs a big network of pharmaceutical Internet companies that have software installed in clinics in villages to provide online diagnosis and drugs.
On April 13, the Graham Foggs team was in Guangzhou. There, they visited the Africa Guangdong Business Association (AGBA) and New South pharmaceutical company.
Receiving the delegation, the vice chairman of AGBA, Ms Tracy Huo, gave a brief history of the company and the medical industry in Guangzhou. She expressed willingness to work with the Graham Foggs delegation to supply pharmaceutical raw materials.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Graham Foggs and AGBA.
While still at AGBA, the team met with a group of equipment suppliers, each of which pitched their business.
Earlier, the chairman of Graham Foggs told the group that their visit to China involved three levels of transactions: direct purchase of APIs, talking with equipment producers, and investment in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. He said, “We are looking for people to invest in this programme in Nigeria. One thing that is important to us — as the matter of quality is a given — is price of the raw materials. And the reason for this should be very obvious.”
During a meeting with the New South Group, makers of a malaria drug called “Artequick”, the chairman of the group, Mr Chen, said his company was willing to end the malaria scourge in Nigeria.
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